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Wetland Vegetation in Manzala Lagoon, Nile Delta Coast, Egypt: Rapid Responses of Pollen to Altered Nile Hydrology and Land Use

Authors: 
Bernhardt, C. E., Stanley, J. D., Horton, B. P
Year: 
2 011
Source: 
Journal of Coastal Research
Abstract: 
The pollen record in a sediment core from Manzala lagoon on the Nile delta coastal margin of Egypt, deposited from ca. AD 1860 to 1990, indicates rapid coastal wetland vegetation responses to two primary periods of human activity. These are associated with artificially altered Nile hydrologic regimes in proximal areas and distal sectors located to similar to 1200 km south of Manzala. Freshwater wetland plants that were dominant, such as Typha and Phragmites, decreased rapidly, whereas in the early 1900s, brackish water wetland species (e.g., Amaranthaceae) increased. This change occurred after closure of the Aswan Low Dam in 1902. The second major modification in the pollen record occurred in the early 1970s, after Aswan High Dam closure from 1965 to 1970, when Typha pollen abundance increased rapidly. Massive population growth occurred along the Nile during the 130 years represented by the core section. During this time, the total volume of lagoon water decreased because of conversion of wetland areas to agricultural land, and input of organic-rich sediment, sewage (municipal, agricultural, industrial), and fertilizer in Manzala lagoon increased markedly. Although the wetland plant community has continued to respond to increasingly intensified and varied human-induced pressures in proximal sectors, the two most marked changes in Manzala pollen best correlate with distal events (i.e., closure of the two dams at Aswan). The study also shows that the two major vegetation changes in Manzala lagoon each occurred less than 10 years after closure upriver of the Low and High dams that markedly altered the Nile regime from Upper Egypt to the coast.
EES Authors: 
Christopher Bernhardt (2009)
Research Track Category: 

Department of Earth and Environmental Science / University of Pennsylvania, 251 Hayden Hall, 240 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6316